Dream of a Female Worker
How do you find the hope for freedom after centuries of oppression from four different world powers? What spark is there to transform the pain that you feel within and the emptiness of the world around you? Minjung theology is borne out of these questions and finds a response in a unique understanding of Christ and how to follow him faithfully.
Minjung (민중) is a word derived from the Korean pronunciation of two Chinese characters: “min” (the people) and “jung” (the masses). The combination of the two creates an image of the majority of people, the poor, the oppressed. The term originated as a descriptor in contrast to the Yangban, or ruling elite class.
Although it is similar in some respects to liberation theological movements, it is an oversimplification of the Korean context to lump in with Latin American, African, or other movements. There is less of an emphasis upon economic injustice and more attention to institutional oppression from colonial and hierarchical structures. These forms of injustice are partly due to geography, as the Korean peninsula is situated between China and Japan, and also (much more recently) politically between the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Minjung theology derives from the experience of the minjung– the people who are exploited by the elite. Initially conceived as an interpretive source by leaders of the Urban Industrial Mission who volunteered for labor camps in the early 1960s, the term has taken on added significance in successive generations. A similarity to the minjung can be found in the gospels’ use of the term ὄχλος (ochlos) to refer to the crowds (of commoners, outcasts) following Jesus.
There are two distinct features of minjung theology: 한 (han) and 단 (dan).
50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his poignant essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. A watershed moment for the American Civil Rights Movement, King’s letter continues to be an entry point for understanding Christian opposition to systemic injustice. The stark realities of churches captive to cultural notions of superiority echo from its pages and should give us reason again to acknowledge our complicity in mistreatment of our neighbor (regardless their ethnicity, gender, or creed) and resolve to change ourselves and our communities.
In his address, King is writing to white pastors who were silent or resistant to the need for social justice regarding civil rights for African-Americans, and his call resounds to Christians who are ignorant of the histories and current realities of ethnically and historically marginalized groups. Continuing to ignore the reality (or the identity-creating history) perpetuates the cultural divides that subtly (and not-so-subtly) influence contemporary Christianity.
Below is the letter in it’s entirety.
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. Continue reading
“Que mi sangre sea semilla de libertad y la señal de que la esperanza será pronto una realidad.”
(Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.)
- Archbishop Óscar Romero
On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated while he was celebrating the mass.
Romero had become an advocate and champion of the poor in El Salvador and Latin America, which brought him into opposition with the right-wing military government. Following his assassination, he has been recognized as a candidate for canonization and is currently revered as a Servant of God.
The following music video was produced as part of The Project: Martyrs Prayers. Accompanying this is a three-part podcast examining the life and message of Father Romero by Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The podcasts are available here (Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: Present Reality of Martyrdom, Part 3: Ancient/Modern Understanding of Martyrdom).
Musician- Michael Glen Bell
Film Maker- Owen Thomas
More information on The Project: Martyrs Prayers.
A beauty of the Hebrew Psalter is its breadth of emotion and responsiveness. The full range of experience is expressed and different cultures and generations have found inspiration and solidarity with the ancient authors. This piece, written from an emergent perspective, offers a new description of the emotion of the psalm in postmodern poetry.
You give and take
And it seems that you take more then you give Continue reading
Below s a link to a piece describing the manner in which a Palestinian reads an oft-quoted piece of the Hebrew scripture and how his experience influences his interpretation.
A Biblical Reflection on Genesis 12:3
Dr. Naim Ateek
“On the day after Christmas, we went on a courtesy visit to the Israeli minister of religious affairs. Archbishop Tutu spoke “truth to power” and combined courage with candor. He told the minister about the importance of giving the Palestinians justice and freedom. As we were leaving the government building, we were followed by a man who kept repeatedly shouting the words at us, “Genesis twelve three; Genesis 12:3.” I could hardly wait to get home in order to look up the text in the Bible.”
Rev. Dr. Ateek is a Palestinian Christian pastor, teacher, and advocate. He founded the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and has authored Justice, and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation